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Police Cops: The Musical review: The funniest musical since The Book of Mormon

The 80s spoof is "a madcap pastiche across two gag-packed hours", writes Attitude's Simon Button

5.0 rating

By Simon Button

Police Cops musical cast onstage
Cast of Police Cops (Image: Pamela Raith)

Medics should be on standby at the end of Police Cops: The Musical for anyone who needs their sides stitching up. This madcap pastiche of every terrible 80s buddy-cop movie and TV series (and there are a lot of those to choose from) is the funniest thing this reviewer has seen on stage since The Book of Mormon. And while that show takes frequent pauses for plot and breath, this one hurtles along across two gag-packed hours. Never mind laugh a minute – it’s more like a laugh a nanosecond.

There’s a plot of sorts here but it’s as lean as leading man Zachary Hunt’s oft-bared torso – which, he jokes, is impressively muscled to fool people into thinking he’s taller. Hunt plays an unassuming shy guy named Jimmy Johnson who quits his job in a diner to enlist in the US police force and avenge his murdered sister (who is also his dad!). This noble quest leads him to join forces with ex-cop Harrison (Tom Roe, sporting an Indiana Jones hat) to try and take down Mexican drug lord Hernandez (Nathan Parkinson giving good sleaze).

“Absolutely bonkers comedy that had the crowd screaming with laughter”

Cue 120 minutes of absolutely bonkers comedy that had the crowd screaming with laughter so loudly that many jokes were missed. That’s a good way to ensure return visits and this is a show that’s well worth catching more than once. Edinburgh Fringe favourites Hunt, Roe and Parkinson have been the Police Cops comedy troupe for many years now. The way they work together is nothing short of miraculous, with a vibe of “We’ll do anything for comedy”. They perform stupid stunts, adopt outrageous accents and improv like masters of the craft, all with a twinkle in their eyes. They’re clearly having as much fun as the audience.

Zachary Hunt in Police Cops The Musical
Zachary Hunt in Police Cops The Musical (Image: Pamela Raith)

Their other shows together include Badass Be Thy Name and Police Cops In Space, both of which I wish I’d seen simply because of their funny-sounding titles. This show is their first musical and it’s a slam-dunk. These guys turn out to be triple threats who could grace any West End song-and-dance extravaganza.

“It’s as silly as they come”

It is set in the 80s and composer Ben Adams (from boyband A1 by way of Eugenius!) sets the tone with opening number ‘The U.S. Eighties’ that’s a perfect piss-take of guitar rock. His catchy score also includes ballads, hoedowns, gospel and Latino that choreographer Matt Cole has a blast bringing to life.

The trio of game-for-anything lads are joined by the outrageously talented Melinda Orengo and Natassia Bustamente. Orengo has a song about being exhausted from helping homeless children that features the line “Fuck the kids” and perfectly sums up the show’s gleeful naughtiness. And it’s as silly as they come, with jokes about getting blow jobs from Henry Hoovers, Roe contorting himself into a pair of mini Mexican wrestlers and Parkinson sporting fake legs because… well, why not if it gets a laugh?

Police Cops: The Musical is at Southwark Playhouse Elephant, London, until 20 April. Get tickets here.